Since plyometric training demands a high amount of power, agility and concentration, it can drain your energy, which can increase your risk of injury, especially to your hamstrings. With proper conditioning, your hamstrings will get stronger and move better so that you can sprint a little longer or jump a little higher. There is no single best hamstring plyometric exercise. The type of exercise you do depends on your goals and fitness level.
Your hamstrings are like brakes in your car that slow your speed, which is necessary to prevent injury to your leg muscles and joints. When you do lower-body plyometrics, your hamstrings work with other muscles in your legs and hip to slow down your body when you land on your feet, says athletic coach Vern Gambetta, author of "Athletic Development." Your legs bend and compress like a spring to generate force so that you can produce more force in the next jump.
Depth jumps work on lower-body stability and landing patterns, allowing you to jump higher in the next jump. Use two jump boxes -- one 1 foot high and one 2 feet high -- which are designed to withstand high impact. Put them about 3 to 4 feet apart and stand on the 1-foot-high box. Jump down to the space between the boxes with your feet about hip-distance apart on your toes and the balls of your feet. Bend your knees slightly when you land. As soon as you land, jump onto the higher box immediately and land in the same way.
Box jumps work on force production, as your hamstrings stabilize your leg as you jump and land. Stand in front of a jump box that is 2 to 3 feet high. Jump on top of the box and land gently on your toes and the balls of your feet. Immediately jump forward and land gently on the ground in the same way. Turn around and repeat the exercise as fast as you can.
Track and Field Drills
Most leg drills that are often taught in track and field sports work your hamstrings in many ways. If you play most court and field sports, like basketball, tennis and soccer, sprinting drills with cutting and turning are what you need, Gambetta says. For sports and activities that require jumping and leaping -- basketball, gymnastics and volleyball -- add depth jumps, box jumps and power step-ups to your workout. Other drills include running butt kicks, leg swings, running knee-ups and cycle split jumps.
Because plyometrics is explosive in nature, you have a high risk of injury if you haven't developed a foundation of stability, strength and mobility. The Sports Injury Clinic recommends that you do not train more than twice a week in plyometrics and never train when you are fatigued. Work with a qualified exercise professional if you are new to plyometrics before training on your own. If you have pain or any medical issues, check with your health care provider before starting any workout program.
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.